Starting KGEC LUG with FreedomFest '09

The Beginning: The preparations for forming a ‘GNU/Linux User Group’ in KGEC was started just after the Installfest ‘09. We created the Mailing List of our group on 23rd February and visited NIT Durgapur to come closer to what a 'GNU/Linux User Group’ is and its functioning. We also collected some resources from there like the fedora repo, different distributions isos and ideas to start the GLUG. The key people to help me was Mr. Debayan and Mr. Rangeen.

The Ideas: The Mailing list of GLUG KGEC was ready but there was no awareness. The GLUG was there but no official existence. So, here came the idea of Publicity, Inauguration program and to create a awareness, the Inauguration should be followed by FOSS events. To have publicity, there should be also some activities and we installed Fedora 10 in Library Public access computer with a Poster as maintained by GLUG KGEC. There were lots of planning like this and a formal GLUG structure was formulated for the official record. The college supported the GLUG concept and we fixed 18th April as the inauguration date followed by FOSS events.

The Growth: Our college authority helped us in every possible way, they could. They gave the permission, helped us for the event, became members and even gave donations. The event name ‘FreedomFest’ was suggested by Mr. Abhradip Mukherjee. Our Principal sir agreed to Inaugurate the GLUG KGEC on 18th. We invited Mr. Indranil Das Gupta as our chief guest, Mr. Abhradip to conduct the ‘Why FOSS’ interactive session and ‘Kalyani Linux User Group’ for conducting the ‘Fedora Workshop’ practical session. All the speakers gave the confirmation and we went ready for the event. Working on the idea was really great. We wanted to conduct this event as successfully as the InstallFest on 21st Feb. So, we arranged for all permissions and got the CSE computer Lab ready a day before the event. The publicity of this event was also a great factor. We did exclusive publicity of this event and were also getting good positive responses. We set the max limit of participants to 150.

The Management: Since the GLUG KGEC already existed in mailing list and we had few much interested students, we were always in touch and went together. After the final draft, we even got some surprise names getting interested in GLUG KGEC and becoming member. Some of their names who gave immense effort are: Sunil Kr. Koiri, Md. Ekhlaque, Siddharth Lepcha, Mithun Sarkar, Amit Mandal, Mukesh Singh, Ramiz Raza, Sahel Mullick and Abu Sufian. There were even others who supported whenever needed.The event management and maximum effort for the event was given by Sunil Kr. Koiri. There were volunteers who helped conduct the event. All the management and smooth running of the event was in there hands and they did the job perfectly. I was busy receiving the guests and checking out what’s next and did not have to worry about anything regarding the smooth running of the event. Every credit goes to our volunteer team.

The Event - FreedomFest ‘09: The event was finally conducted on 18th April '09. The Event started at 11:30 AM with the inauguration of GLUG KGEC in the hand of principal. Then there were speeches of the the following persons: 1. Dr. Krishnendu Chakrabarty (the principal) 2. Dr. Santanu Das (ME HOD) 3. Mr. Mahadev Rana (Labrarian) 4. Mr. Kousik Dasgupta (Lecturer CSE & President, GLUG KGEC) 5. Mr. Rohit Gupta (Secretary, GLUG KGEC) 6. Mr. Paritosh (Secretary, Kalyani LUG)

The even then followed the ‘Why FOSS’ interactive session by Mr. Abhradip Mukherjee. It started at 12:15 PM and concluded at 2:15 PM. He explained the philosophies behind ‘Free and Open Source Software’ and answered to the Questions of participants and cleared their doubts. The participants were all newbies to the concept and appreciated the philosophies. Then there was a FOSS quiz. The participants were asked different questions on FOSS and whoever answered the question got a Distribution (15 DVDs of different distributions) of GNU/Linux and fedora stikers. There were also 28 fedora 10 DVD’s distributed to all needed and goodies given to all. The FOSS quiz was really got participants interested and Abhradip got them important questions whose answers were important to know. Then there was a break and after that the Practical Workshop part was started. This was conducted by ‘Kalyani Linux User Group’ and every participant was given a computer to experiment and learn. The Lab computers were already installed with fedora 8. The event started at 2:35 PM and concluded at 5:50 PM. In this event, the participants were shown Linux administration and general solution to problems. Some of the topics discussed are – How to crack root password, how to work in CUI, how to configure grub.conf, xorg.conf, how to use multi-user interface and many more administrative and troubleshooting solutions. The participants were even encouraged to get their problems solved. Then I also conducted a small session on how to use a offline mirror and install, remove applications. We also showed some of very useful applications. The whole session was interactive. There were three people from Kalyani Linux User Group: 1. Biswanath Chakraborty 2. Mithun Pal 3. Jayanta Kumal Pal Every participant did exactly what was shown in the projector in the computers provided.

Response: The registration started at 10:15 AM and preparations were on. The event viewed some very good responses from some of the faculty members of our college. There were some MCA faculty of our college who came even before registration started and were looking for registration. The students response was moderate. We had a total registration of 85 with 47 being members of GLUG KGEC. The There were this 85 participants in the starting of event who attended the ‘Why FOSS’ session apart from the volunteers managing the works. Some of the participants had to leave in the break in between because some had labs, some had Hall Day reunion in their Hostel (a annual event). The event viewed about 45 participants in the ‘Fedora Workshop’ session. There were participants from every stream and year.

What went wrong: On 18th April, Mr. Indranil Das Gupta gave us a news of his bad health and said he will not be able to come. The date selection of the Event as April 18 also caused trouble. The event was conducted on Saturday because only first year had classes but there were extra classes on for every year, Labs and even class tests. The event also clashed with the dates of VC (a KGEC Hostel) annual Hall Day. This proved a low response from much interested students there. The train in which Mr. Abhradip Mukherjee (founder, p4f network) was coming also got delayed half an hour but his ‘Why FOSS’ session was supposed to be started earlier as Mr. Indranil Das Gupta’s speech was canceled.

Special Thanks: The whole event “FreedomFest ‘09” was a success due to the hard word and responsibility taken by the following people: 1.Mr. Abhradip Mukherjee. He had WBUT 8th semester examinations starting from 20th April but even then he came to our rescue and helped us in the event. His contribution is really great for this event. 2.'Kalyani Linux User Group’. They conducted the practical workshop session in the lab and they conducted it so well that the participants understood even some of the administrative part (Many of them were newbies). 3.The students of KGEC who participated in volunteer work and helped conduct the event.

Result: The event “FreedomFest ‘09” was an overall awareness program in KGEC and the participants came closer to the FOSS philosophy and GNU/Linux. The 'Why FOSS’ session gave them reasons and practical workshop part helped them technically. The participants stopped fearing GNU/Linux and even tried to apply what they learned in FreedomFest in their own computers. There were even some more GNU/Linux installations and interest in FOSS. Now, we are all set to get into the next level – becoming power users and contributors.